F. Scott and Zelada Fitzgerald

With all the buzz of the recent movie, The Great Gatsby, we thought we should spotlight F. Scott Fitzgerald this month so that you can learn a little bit about the man behind the story.

After the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda became celebrities. The newspapers of New York portrayed them as Jazz Age embodiments of the Roaring Twenties: young, seemingly wealthy, and beautiful. Their wedding was a gothic version of their wishful fairytale life as the publicly perceived “golden” couple, but their reality was a continual and futile battle against alcoholism, infidelity, literary rivalry, and a marriage that their friend Ring Lardner described as, “Mr. Fitzgerald is a novelist and Mrs. Fitzgerald is a novelty” (Cline, 2004). Oheka Castle on the Gold Coast of Long Island was a partial inspiration for Gatsby’s estate. Paris in the 1920s proved the most influential decade of Fitzgerald’s development. His masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, was published in 1925. The inspiration for Gatsby’s estate and setting came after the birth of the Fitzgerald’s first son and their move to Great Neck, Long Island in 1922, where F. Scott witnessed the grand Oheka Castle built by Otto Kahn (Bruccoli, 2000). He had told his editor Maxwell Perkins that the novel was a “consciously artistic achievement” and a “purely creative work — not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained imagination of a sincere and yet radiant world”. He latter added that he felt “an enormous power in me now, more than I’ve ever had” (Leader, 2000). After the publication and success of The Great Gatsby, the Fitzgerald’s made several excursions to Europe, mostly Paris, and befriended many American expatriate figures in Paris, notably Ernest Hemingway. Fitzgerald’s relationship with Hemingway was immediate and lively, but Hemingway disapproved of Zelda. He described her as “insane” and claimed that she “encouraged her husband to drink so as to distract Scott from his work on his novel” (Canterbury & Birch, 2006). Hemingway is but one instance of the many charged relationships Fitzgerald maintained. The publication of The Great Gatsby prompted a discussion with poet T.S. Eliot, and she to wrote in a letter to him, “[I]t seems to me to be the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James….” (Wilson, 1993). The cover art was entitled “Celestial Eyes” and was designed by artist Francis Cugat.

The first edition Great Gatsby in dust jacket

The first edition Great Gatsby in dust jacket

Tender is the Night inscribed first edition

Tender is the Night inscribed first edition

Taps at Reveille inscribed first edition F. Scott Fitzgerald

Taps at Reveille inscribed first edition

Purchase these books: The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, Taps at Reveille

See all books in our inventory by F. Scott Fitzerald